While the majority of your trip is prepared for you, there are still a few things to be aware of in order to have the best time in Peru. By reviewing the following information, you will be able to have a safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable experience during your stay.
Preparing to Leave
Passports and Visas:
Every traveler must have a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months after the date of travel. If required, each traveler will need their own visa as well. If you are not a U.S. citizen, then you are strongly advised to check with your local consulate to determine which papers are needed for admission into the country. Any travelers that plan to leave and then re-enter a country should check to ensure that they have the proper documents, as a separate visa may be needed for re-entry even into the same country. Passport applications are attainable at Passport Agencies and Post Offices; due to long processing time which may be several weeks, it is advisable to plan your application process as early as possible. Also, please ensure that your passport has 2 blank pages to fit both the visa and the entry/exit stamp.
For Peru: All passport information must be submitted to 3rd Rock Adventures at least 30 days before departure. Without this information, we cannot book individual Machu Picchu train tickets.
Planning ahead will allow you to relax before departure, and you will be able to ensure that all steps are properly taken care of before it’s too late. At least a month in advance, you should gather all of your necessary documents (passport, visa, etc.) and any medications or other supplies that you may need. For any prescribed medications, make a photocopy of your prescription along with the generic names and dosages; this will allow you to receive replacements should they get lost. Also, you are strongly encouraged to make photocopies of all of your documents. This will allow you to leave the originals somewhere safe during an excursion, and in the event that anything is lost, you will have a back-up available.
Gather small items as well, such as headache medication, sleeping pills, and medicine to help your stomach should the food or water upset it. Bring a reliable alarm or phone; however, make sure not to pack your phone or other valuables in your checked luggage.
It is advised that you pack an overnight for your stay in Aguas Calientes. Ideally, this bag should contain a fresh pair of clothes, toiletries, and anything else you will need a night and morning. Because the trains to Machu Picchu offer very little room, we will be storing your luggage in Cuzco during this time.
Cell Phones/Calling Cards:
It is advisable that you carry a cell phone while traveling. You should contact your provider beforehand to ensure that it will work during your stay abroad. Your phone will ideally allow for GSM standard; should it not, you may be charged a high roaming fee. If your company does not offer specials or deals while abroad, try adding a local SIM card instead. If you are able to access the internet, try using phone calls through Skype in order to get a better rate. You may also have the option of renting a phone upon arrival as well, but this is not guaranteed.
You can often call the U.S. abroad by using a prepaid calling card. The fee is often minimal; however, you should check before calling to prevent over-charging.
Calling Another Country:
In order to call another country, make sure to dial your Exit Code + the receiving Country’s Code + the phone number. Most countries have an exit code of 00; however, the US and Canada are 011, Cambodia is 001, Australia is 0011, and Russia is 8 then 10*.
Wireless Internet Access:
Plan ahead in order to avoid unnecessary fees. For the most convenient internet access, try connecting to local wifi networks or free hotspots. Be careful that the network is secure. You may also purchase a travel modem, or pay for a local plan as well. However, these plans may be expensive.
Before traveling, it is highly recommended that you consult a doctor to check for any irregularities or complications. Make sure that you are up to date with current vaccinations, and you should also familiarize yourself with conditions such as high-altitude sickness. Along with your doctor, you are also advised to check any updates from the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/).
There are also countless ways to stay healthy while abroad. By following these simple rules, you will be able to avoid many commons problems that travelers face in new countries.
-Don’t eat new foods in excessive quantities. While a roadside meal may seem tasty and adventurous, it could easily ruin the rest of your trip. Instead, have a few small bites and work your way up to enjoying local cuisine. While experiencing new foods is part of the charm of traveling, it is also important to take it slow to avoid upsetting your stomach.
-Depending on the country, it may be advisable to avoid the local water. Even if the water is clean, it will still be filtered differently than the water you are used to at home. This can cause stomach problems or even flu-like symptoms. Drink bottled water as much as you can. If the location is especially known for its dirty water, then you should also avoid fruits, salads, or anything else that is washed with local water. This also includes ice cubes in your drinks.
-While avoiding local water is often important, it is just as important to stay thoroughly hydrated throughout your trip. It can be easy to forget to take care of yourself, but dehydration is a major problem for travelers. Make sure to always have a fresh bottle of water with you in order to stay healthy and feel your best.
-If you have a known allergy to foods, insects, or anything else, it may be wise to carry a medical note or bracelet to help alert others. Should an allergy complication occur, this note or bracelet will help others to help you quickly and without having to guess.
-Wash your hands with antibacterial soap. It is also advisable to carry hand sanitizer with you as well.
-Pack a strong sunscreen to prevent sunburns. Depending on the country and season, it may also be advisable to bring insect or mosquito repellant.
-Bring a small first-aid kit with you just in case. This kit can include Tylenol, band aids, and pills to ease your stomach ache. This can become very useful should you eat food that disagrees with you or you get a cut during an activity.
Aircraft Cabin Insecticide Treatment:
Some countries require all incoming aircraft cabins to receive an insecticide treatment. A list of all applicable countries can be found at http://www.dot.gov/office-policy/aviation-policy/aircraft-disinsection-requirements.
Even though vaccinations are not required, it is advisable to get a current vaccination against yellow fever as a precaution. This is especially encouraged should you be traveling through the Amazon or towards Bolivia. Again, it is strongly recommended that you consult your doctor before embarking to Peru.
During wet and damp seasons, you will most likely encounter swarms of mosquitoes. For this reason, please bring an insect repellant and long-sleeve clothing. A hat and glasses may help as well.
Diarrhea is a very common problem for travelers in Peru. It can come from contaminated food or water. Severe diarrhea can also result in severe dehydration. To protect yourself, please adhere to the following advice:
-Stick with bottled water, and make sure to drink plenty of it throughout the day.
-Avoid raw fruits, milk, and cheeses.
-All meats, poultry, and seafood should be fully cooked before consumption. Try to avoid unreputable business or stands on the street.
-Pisco Sour, a very popular Peruvian drink, is often made with uncooked egg whites. While this drink can be enjoyed moderation, please take precaution before consuming. If the drink is being made in an unreputable location, then the egg whites may be tainted and should be avoided.
-If you are suffering from diarrhea, it is advisable to not eat until your stomach is ready. Make sure to drink lots of water, and rest as much as possible. You can also drink sports drinks, such as Gatorade, in small amounts. If you are feeling hungry, you may have a few small crackers to help ease your stomach ache; however, a full meal is not advised.
-After your stomach is feeling better, you should still avoid consuming large or heavy meals. Ease your way back to your normal diet by eating small fruits, soups, or crackers.
Altitude sickness is a serious problem for many travelers. Due to the low-amount of oxygen at higher altitudes, many travelers begin to feel dizzy, upset to their stomach, and sometimes close to fainting the higher up they go. Both Cuzco and Puno are very high-altitude, and it is advisable to plan ahead.
-Talk with your doctor about altitude sickness. Some medications, such as Diamox, can possibly help with this problem.
-Before traveling to a high-altitude location, it is advisable that you eat less than usual. Avoid heavy or starchy meals, and instead enjoy soups, fruits, and vegetables. Hot drinks or soups can also greatly benefit you before going.
-Stay hydrated with bottled water. If you are prone to nasal allergies, then bring a nasal spray with you to prevent congestion or nosebleeds.
-If you feel dizzy or sick, then you should rest before containing. Don’t try to fight through the sickness; instead, rest and go only when you feel better. Most symptoms last for 10-15 minutes, and you should feel better after a quick rest.
-Oxygen is often offered at high-altitude locations, and it can help you to feel better instantly.
-If you have a headache, then a simple Tylenol or similar medication can quickly help you to overcome it.
-Local coca tea with mint can also help your symptoms.
-Upon arriving, it is helpful to resume eating high-carbohydrate foods. This will help you to overcome the symptoms quickly.
Again, check with your doctor before traveling to high-altitude locations.
Climate and Clothing:
Peru’s climate is vastly different depending on where you go. Lima has winter during May through October, and it has a warm summer during December through March. The summers are generally hot but not scorching, and the winter is usually mildly chilly. Lima seldom sees rain as well.
The coastal areas of Ica, which includes Nazca and Pacaras, is generally warm and dry through the year. The high-altitude regions of Peru, such as Cuzco and Puno, generally experience two seasons throughout the year. From May to October is the dry season that features warm days and rather cold nights. From December to March it is mostly rain.
The jungle region, such as the Amazon, is very humid and tropical. While the jungle season also features distinct seasons, it does rain roughly two-thirds of the year.